The City Game focuses coverage on the game of basketball at the amateur levels in and around the city of Chicago
By Chris Pennant (@kwandarykitten)
In 2018, the Chicago Elite Classic’s first year in Wintrust Arena was a memorable affair.
Longtime rivals finished off an intense contest with a buzzer beater; top college prospects shone bright in wins and losses; and Chicago teams made it known they could compete with the best.
The two-day boys and girls’ basketball showcase is back at Wintrust and Chicago’s South Loop for the second consecutive year and, somehow, the event promises to be even more competitive.
Nearby Bloom Township was ranked no. 1 in the Sun-Times preseason poll and is a favorite to make the state finals, as are Chicago mainstays Whitney Young, Simeon and Morgan Park. They’ll be challenged by Texas 6A state champs Duncanville (Young) and Christian Brothers from St. Louis (MP), each boasting nationally-ranked college prospects.
Here are the hoopers to keep an eye out for this weekend.
Players to Watch
DJ Steward, Whitney Young: What more can be said about DJ Steward? The electrifying senior guard is the top basketball prospect in Illinois, a prime Mr. Basketball candidate and he committed to Duke in October (which he documented in a very insightful blog post for USA Today). He’s the unquestioned leader of another strong Dolphins squad that has a real chance at a state title. If he shows out against Duncanville, you can bet Blue Devil fans will start talking “brazy” about their chances for a 2021 NCAA title.
Micah Peavy, Duncanville: With Peavy and Steward facing off, the penultimate game of the tournament might overshadow Saturday night’s main event. The 6-7 Texas Tech commit is ranked in the top 35 on ESPN and has the ability to shoot off the catch or dribble as well as distribute. He’s another in a string of highly-ranked recruits for Red Raiders coach Chris Beard.
Adam Miller, Morgan Park: All eyes will be on Miller and Morgan Park as they headline the CEC. Miller is used to the attention, the Peoria native transferred from Manual High School two years ago and committed to the University of Illinois last week. so many people in the Land of Lincoln will be watching for Miller to put up some big numbers against Missouri powerhouse Christian Brothers.
Miller could form one of the best backcourts in the nation with fellow Mustang grad Ayo Dosunmu next year in Champaign if the latter delays his likely NBA draft declaration one more year.
Caleb Love, Christian Brothers: Miller will have a difficult matchup agaisnt Love. The 6-3 combo guard gets way above the rim and can put the ball in the basket almost at will. Love and Christian Brothers are eyeing a return to the Missouri state title game, which they lost last year. ACC fans are more interested in looking forward to the next college season, when Love (North Carolina) will face off against Steward and Duke in new chapters of the Tobacco Road rivalry.
Elite Classic action kicks off Friday night with a full slate of local action, including the annual showdown between suburban rivals Oak Park-River Forest and Fenwick. Last year’s contest ended with a buzzer-beater from star forward (and future Louisville Cardinal) Bryce Hopkins to lift the Friars to victory.
Saturday’s action starts with the girls’ games at 11 am and 12:30 pm and closes out with games including the city powers highlighted by Whitney Young-Duncanville, followed by Morgan Park-Christian Brothers.
Tickets can be purchased at the Wintrust Arena box office or via Ticketmaster. For more information, visit http://www.chicagoeliteclassic.com
Friday, December 6
6 pm – Lane Tech vs. New Trier
7:30 pm – Evanston vs. Notre Dame (Niles)
9 pm – Oak Park-River Forest vs. Fenwick
Saturday, December 7
11 am – Phillips vs. Thornwood (Girls)
12:30 pm – Simeon vs. Homewood-Flossmoor (Girls)
2 pm – Kenwood vs. Lincoln Park
3:45 pm – Bloom vs. Pace Academy (GA)
5:30 pm – Simeon vs. St. Frances (MD)
7:15 pm – Whitney Young vs. Duncanville (TX)
9 pm – Morgan Park vs. Christian Brothers (MO)
Chris Pennant covers professional and amateur basketball for WARR Media